Des Moines Police Bargaining Unit Association President Stew Barnes allegedly sexually harassed female cops, but before he could face disciplinary action he put down his papers.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, four Des Moines Police Department staff members claimed that they were sent unsolicited explicit images by the Des Moines Police Union chief in 2019 and 2020, including many of himself in his birthday suit, reported ABC News.

The lawsuit said that the 61-year-old was allowed to retire in August last year with full benefits despite “overwhelming evidence” of his harassment of co-workers and staff members of a credit union and a salon. According to the lawsuit, he should have faced a criminal investigation and been disqualified from benefits as he was allegedly using police resources “to find and stalk women."

Des Moines attorney Jill Zwagerman, who is representing the women, said, “It sends the message that you can sexually harass someone and walk away and retire if you are at the end of your career." She added that her clients love being police officers that's why they are bringing this lawsuit, according to Des Moines Register.

Defending the department and the city’s handling of the internal investigation, a statement issued Tuesday through the city manager’s office read, “Consistent with state and federal law, when the city became aware of the behavior, the city immediately and thoroughly investigated the allegations and took all necessary remedial steps."

The statement further said that Barnes confirmed to have sent the inappropriate pictures and submitted his resignation before the inquiry came to an end. Police Chief Dana Wingert later said that the misconduct happened and that it would have been an offense that could result in him being dismissed from his job.

The statement said that the city does not have the authority to prevent the offending officer from receiving pension benefits or resigning, and that it's the Municipal Fire and Police Retirement System of Iowa that makes decisions regarding benefits.

According to the lawsuit, the department’s way of handling of the case is part of a sexually hostile culture. Apart from the three cops and a digital evidence specialist who claimed Barnes harassed them, a fifth woman alleged that she had been passed over for promotions because she is a woman. According to the lawsuit, female employees are mostly subjected to unwanted advances, sexist comments and other demeaning behavior by male cops.

The plaintiffs include a senior female officer, who said that male employees started sexually harassing her since she joined in 1997. She alleged Barnes came up to her two years ago, saying, “Get a load of this,” before showing her photos of his penis and others in which he was nude, on his phone. He reportedly forced the women to take part in bets in which the loser would have to do “naked dares" and then send images.

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